Three Indians Win UK's Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists


ThreeThree Indian scientists are among the nine recipients of this year's Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in the UK, recognized for their groundbreaking work in chemical, physical, and life sciences. Professors Rahul R. Nair, Mehul Malik, Dr. Tanmay Bharat, and others will be celebrated and receive grants totaling £480,000 at a prestigious gala dinner and award ceremony in London on February 27. Sir Leonard Blavatnik, Founder and Chairman of Access Industries and Head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation, highlighted the impact of early recognition and funding in a scientist's career, emphasizing its role in transforming discoveries into significant scientific breakthroughs.

"We take pride in the fact that the Awards have not only elevated UK science but have also contributed to the careers of numerous outstanding young scientists, anticipating further remarkable discoveries in the years to come", expressed Professor Nair, a materials physicist at The University of Manchester. He was recognized in the category of Physical Sciences & Engineering for his work on innovative membranes based on two-dimensional (2D) materials, facilitating energy-efficient separation and filtration technologies. Utilizing graphene and other 2D materials, his research delves into the nanoscale transport of water, organic molecules, and ions, with potential applications in addressing societal challenges like water filtration and separation technologies.

Professor Nair will receive £100,000 in unrestricted funds for his research that has shed light on "the movement of water and other molecules in nano-capillaries, as those movements differ from their behavior on the macro scale", as stated in the award announcement. Another laureate, Quantum physicist and Professor of Physics Mehul Malik, is advancing quantum communications at Heriot-Watt University by harnessing high-dimensional entanglement, a complex quantum physics phenomenon. His innovative techniques enable robust entanglement over long distances and harsh conditions, forming the basis for noise-resistant and high-capacity quantum networks securely transmitting large amounts of information encoded on individual photons.

Dr. Bharat, a structural microbiologist and program leader at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, has utilized cutting-edge cryo-ET techniques to create atomic-level images of cell surface molecules on microorganisms. Recognized for his work with significant biomedical implications, particularly in understanding antibiotic-resistant biofilm communities formed by pathogenic bacteria, Dr. Bharat's research also contributes to the fundamental understanding of cell-to-cell interactions that led to the historical evolution of multicellular life on Earth.

Both Bharat and Malik will receive a £30,000 grant for their respective research endeavors. The 2024 Awards, in their seventh year, received 84 nominations from 40 academic and research institutions. Laureates were selected by an independent jury of expert scientists across the UK. Instituted by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and The New York Academy of Sciences, the awards have contributed a total of £3.3 million to scientists in UK academia since their inception. Following the award ceremony in London, the honorees will present their research through short, interactive lectures at a free public symposium at the RSA House in London.

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